Automating condition monitoring of vegetation on railway trackbeds and embankments

Vegetation growing on railway trackbeds and embankments present potential problems. The presence of vegetation threatens the safety of personnel inspecting the railway infrastructure. In addition vegetation growth clogs the ballast and results in inadequate track drainage which in turn could lead to the collapse of the railway embankment. Assessing vegetation within the realm of railway maintenance is mainly carried out manually by making visual inspections along the track. This is done either on-site or by watching videos recorded by maintenance vehicles mainly operated by the national railway administrative body. A need for the automated detection and characterisation of vegetation on railways (a subset of vegetation control/management) has been identified in collaboration with local railway maintenance subcontractors and Trafikverket, the Swedish Transport Administration (STA). The latter is responsible for long-term planning of the transport system for all types of traffic, as well as for the building, operation and maintenance of public roads and railways. The purpose of this research project was to investigate how vegetation can be measured and quantified by human raters and how machine vision can automate the same process. Data were acquired at railway trackbeds and embankments during field measurement experiments. All field data (such as images) in this thesis work was acquired on operational, lightly trafficked railway tracks, mostly trafficked by goods trains. Data were also generated by letting (human) raters conduct visual estimates of plant cover and/or count the number of plants, either on-site or in-house by making visual estimates of the images acquired from the field experiments. Later, the degree of reliability of (human) raters' visual estimates were investigated and compared against machine vision algorithms.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 301

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01631334
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)
  • Files: ITRD, VTI
  • Created Date: Mar 30 2017 12:18PM